Tragedies caused by oil tankers will continue to occur unless the government takes decisive measures to stem them. Curbing oil tanker fire tragedies has become very urgent in the wake of the death of over 50 people at Upper Iweka area of Onitsha in Anambra State, eastern Nigeria, on Sunday after an oil tanker rammed into a building. The inferno that resulted from the accident spread to about fifteen buses at Asaba Park, causing the death of over 50 people, most of whom were burnt beyond recognition.
This kind of tragedy could be avoided if the authorities devise a better way of hauling highly inflammable liquid such as premium motor spirit on the roads across the lenghth and breath of the country. For decades Nigerians have been exposed to the danger posed by haulage trucks on the nation’s highways. The drivers of such trucks are so reckless that they put the lives of other road users in serious danger. They cause multiple accidents sometimes with their vehicles that are not fit to be on the roads. The trucks also cause substantial damage to the roads because of the weight of the goods they convey.
Experts have suggested in the past that the railway is the best form of transporting heavy goods and petroluem products to far-flung parts of the country to safeguard the lives of road users and prolong the life span of the nation’s highways. But this advice has been largely ignored and avoidable tragedies such as the Onitsha incident keep occurring.
It is painful that we cannot learn from incidents of this nature as the government keeps turning a blind eye to them. It was not enough for the Governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano, to have gone to the scene of Sunday’s tragedy to shed tears. Let him go a step further by joining those clamouring for a review of how inflammable or combustible liquids such as petrol are distributed across the country. There should be a safer method of doing it without putting the lives of Nigerians in grave danger.
Just as we join those who are mourning the dead following the Onitsha oil tanker fire disaster, we call on the new administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to enact policies that could curb the menace posed by trucks conveying petrol and other highly combustible materials on the nation’s highways. It happened in Onitsha on Sunday. It has happened elsewhere before. And it could happen again anywhere else in this country if we don’t collectively make conscious efforts to prevent the tragedy.
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